Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
17 ratings

Sunday - November 06, 2005

From: Lizella, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Where and when bloom; will they bloom in artificial light
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do wildflowers grow through out the world, even in desert and Arctic regions? When do they bloom? Will they bloom in artificial light? What is the most interesting fact about wildflowers?

ANSWER:

Yes, flowering plants grow throughout the world. Even Antarctica, perhaps the harshest climate in the world, has two flowering plants. Pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) and Antarctic hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica). In the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic) the growing season is very short, less than three months, and limited to when the soil warms enough to thaw. The predominant plants are grasses and sedges and most plants remain very short, usually less than one foot or 20 cm. One of the Antarctic plants, Deschampsia antarctica, has adapted to its harsh environment by producing antifreeze proteins. Deserts also have flowering plants. Many of the desert plants have special adaptations to survive long periods without water. One of the major adaptations is to have a small surface area to reduce water loss. Desert plants tend to have small leaves that are thick and waxy, or no leaves at all. Succulent desert plants, such as the cacti, are able to store water in their thick stems.

Many plants in the tropical regions can bloom all year long. The blooming of plants in the polar regions is limited to the short period of late spring and summer. Many desert plants bloom in response to rainfall. For flowering plants in the temperate zones, many plants begin flowering in late winter or early spring and continue flowering into late fall; whereas others bloom only in the spring, some bloom only in the summer, and still others only in the fall. One of the major contributors in determining when a plant flowers is day length, or, more accurately, the length of the period of darkness it experiences. Some plants, for example, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), require a long night to bloom in the late fall/early winter. Wheat (Triticum aestivum), on the other hand, blooms in summer in response to a short night. Then, there are day-neutral plants such as cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) and corn (Zea mays) that bloom in response to cues other than day length. Plants will grow and flower under artificial lights but the particular wave length of light and its intensity are important.

I think the most interesting fact about wildflowers is that they come in so many sizes, forms, and colors and grow in so many varied places. Even in an environment that you think you know well, you can be surprised by a new flowering plant that you have never seen before.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflower meadow in Mobile, AL
January 31, 2009 - I live in Mobile, Alabama. I have 1 acre of land that is partially shaded and covered with centipede yard grass. I would like to completely get rid of all the grass and replace the whole acre with wil...
view the full question and answer

Identity of maroon flower taking over bluebonnets
April 14, 2008 - there is a maroon colored flowering weed at my ranch in Oakwood Texas. It is taking over the bluebonnets and indian paint brushes. Can you tell me what it is and how to get rid of it.
view the full question and answer

Spots on bluebonnets from Godley TX
April 21, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I'm trying to separate rumor and folktales from fact when it comes to bluebonnets in Texas. I notice that bluebonnet blossoms have a double white spot on the center petal tha...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet blooming in July in Leander TX
July 27, 2009 - I have a bluebonnet growing in my front yard in July! Early this year, my son planted the bluebonnet seeds. We did not expect them to grow since we planted them in February/March. One plant grew ...
view the full question and answer

Herbal properties of Dicentra formosa
January 23, 2016 - I would like to get some information on the Dicentra formosa plant such as the benefits of the plant. Is it poisonous? Can it be infused in an oil?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.